Marcelo, Benzema, Lopetegui... the keys to Real's Sevilla shocker
Real's traditional defensive Achilles heel, Pablo Machín's superior tactics, Lopetegui's in-game impotence and Benzema's phone-in all contributed to Sevilla's victory.
In the Sánchez-Pizjuán on Wednesday, where Madrid have suffered in recent seasons, Julen Lopetegui’s side were completely outplayed, lacked intensity, ideas and made basic errors that Pablo Machín’s punished ruthlessly. The Sevilla boss had pulled off a similar trick with Girona last season but Madrid failed to learn from that experience and were undone by a manager who may not share Lopetegui’s stature but certainly had the better of his opposite number on the chalkboard. Here we take a look at the key elements to Sevilla’s success.
Real’s lack of bite
Lopetegui’s side turned up to face the wolf dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, meekly attempting to counter Sevilla’s high-tempo approach and conceding three goals through basic defensive errors while only testing Tomas Vaclik at the opposite end on a couple of occasions. Real found getting out of their own half a mountain to climb and Sevilla should have had more in the opening period. “We gifted them 45 minutes,” said a clearly not happy Casemiro pitch-side after the game.
No pressure, no defence
Madrid did not apply their high press, which has been a hallmark of Lopetegui’s tenure so far, and that allowed Sevilla to dictate the pace of the game. Jesús Navas tore Marcelo to shreds on the left of Madrid’s back four and Nacho had an uncharacteristically poor game filling in at right back, where André Silva profited from the Spain international’s lack of positional insight. Sergio Ramos was often out of position and Casemiro did not provide his usual level of cover across the lines.
The Brazilian has been horribly out of form in recent weeks and scored an unwanted hat-trick in the Sánchez Pizjuán, erring in each of Sevilla’s three goals. A misplaced pass to Casemiro led to the first, an unwillingness to chase down Navas enabled the second and for the third, the defender pulled out of an aerial challenge with Mudo Vázquez as the midfielder fed Wissam Ben Yedder. Marcelo generally offers so much going forward that his defensive shortcomings are overlooked. On a toothless evening at the other end, his performance in his primary job was well below standard.
The Frenchman’s fine start to the season, which reaped four goals in his opening three Liga appearances, has come to a stuttering halt. In four games, against Athletic, Roma, Espanyol and Sevilla, Benzema hasn’t managed a single shot on goal and has been the first player to be substituted in his last three matches. Mariano did not seize another opportunity in the Sánchez Pizjuán on a bleak night for the majority of Madrid players but on Benzema’s current form he will be getting plenty more.
Machín outfoxes Lopetegui
The Real boss’ tactical credentials were called into question by his opposite number, whose three-man defence and use of the flanks completely threw Lopetegui. Rather than going toe-to-toe with the Sevilla full backs, Real attempted to go through the middle, which played into the hands of Machín’s five-man midfield. The home side executed their plan and punished an uncertain Real defence, epitomized by Marcelo’s woeful display.
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